Turin – A Day (and a bit) in the Life Of   21 comments

It was reluctantly time to move on. Another train journey. Another city. Another country. A crap day of weather waved us off as we headed to the impressive Gare de Lyon for a TGV train to Turin.

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I’d grabbed another chance for a slice of First Class life, figuring the extra was worth it for a 7 hour train ride. Plenty of space for a picnic

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The journey wasn’t without some incident. Some kind of problem on the line meant we couldn’t go via Lyon and Grenoble as planned and had to take a very circuitous route through the mountains. The train was actually early so we had to park up for 30 minutes to wait for our slot to pass through the Frejus tunnel into Italy. I took the chance to hop onto the platform for a photo – and a soaking as it was still hammering it down (it rained pretty much the whole way.

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It was a shame that we didn’t get better views of the Alps as we passed through but I’d take the only poor day of the whole holiday as a travel day. I even enjoyed the long journey. Far from being bored as I thought I loved just sitting watching the world go by (after the usual squabble over window seats with the kids)

We checked into our hotel for a couple of nights, the very reasonable and pleasant Hotel Dock Milano (not sure why it was called that as a Hotel in Turin). We had a large spacious, clean quad room with a small balcony for the princely sum of £80 a night including breakfast. I’ve stayed in plusher hotels but I don’t think I’ve ever stayed in one that offered better value, especially one walking distance from a city centre.

We hadn’t originally planned a stop in Turin. We had thought about taking a direct sleeper train to Venice but the reviews of the service were pretty poor and it was very expensive. Taking the day option to Venice would have us arriving late and changing trains in Turin so I thought we may as well have a day to look around.

After we checked in we headed out for a brief explore and a meal. The rain had stopped and the evening light reflecting off the wet pavements was rather nice

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We had a decent pizza, a meal enlivened by a local character who I think was trying to convert us to some form of religion. He was harmless enough so we just looked gormlessly at him (we are quite good at that) and he wandered off

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The next day looked bright and sunny as though the bad weather had passed. The most striking thing about Turin are these covered arcades which run along the main streets. They are rather stunning and provide a welcome shelter from the weather. At this part of the day it was relief from the hot sun

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Turin’s main square is a sort of two-part affair. This is the Piazza Castello with the Piazzetta Reale behind (backed by the Palazzo Reale) and another nice if minimalist fountain

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And flanked by the Palazzo Chiablese on one side

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And the Palazzo Madama on the other. A collection of exceedingly fine buildings around an exceptionally fine and very quiet square

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We wandered out the back of the Palazzo Reale to look at the gardens but they were shabby in the extreme. There was a keep off the grass sign. More accurate to put a keep off the weeds sign

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The other side of the Palazzo Madama

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Turin’s most famous site is the Mole Antonelliana. It was originally a synagogue but is now home to the National Film Museum. As such its the tallest museum in the world.

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Brief reviews seemed to indicate that it’s a pretty good museum with a glass lift to viewing platform and fine views across the city. There was a slow-moving queue however and we only had a day so we moved on. Its tucked into a series of narrow streets so hard to get a decent photo of from close up

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This is the Piazza Vittorio Veneto. Even though it had a road through it, I really liked its vast space and elegant white buildings

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I mentioned cities and rivers in a previous post. From what we saw in Rome and here in Turin, rivers are not a great feature of Italian cities. The Po was pleasant enough but nothing like the scale and grandeur of the Seine. Most of the times we saw the Po, and the Tiber in Rome they seemed little a little manky to be honest

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Still, wandering across an old bridge (this one is the Pont Vittorio Emanuele I) with views to a square and a fine church is never bad.

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This very Roman looking church is the very marvellously named Chiesa

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The views from the top of the steps back across the city was excellent and worth dodging the dangerous road crossing to reach it and return safely

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It was time to eat so we wandered back into town for a nice lunchtime salad and sandwich in the city

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Turin’s major shopping street, the Via Guiseppe Garibaldi, home of revolutionary biscuits

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Wandering back to our hotel we came a cross the old roman part of the city and the Campanile del Duomo

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And an old gateway that doesn’t seem to have a name on my map

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TJS returned back to the hotel for some quality WiFi time while me and the Funsters decided it was time to try some Italian ice cream. Well I can tell you that the Italian reputation for Gelato is well founded. It became a daily ritual to eat a large tub of the stuff with myself and TJF eventually settling on a 2 flavour combination of fruit and dark chocolate. It’s a passion in Italy and Gelato establishments are everywhere. The tip is apparently to look at the pistachio ice cream. If its bright luminescent green as we see in the UK its bad news. If its pale olive-green its most likely natural ingredients and good quality. Here and in Venice our chosen shop was a place called Grom. Considering the enormous portions and high quality it was pretty good value as well. We ate loads over the next couple of weeks

While everyone rested I went out for another wander, eager to see some more of the city and to find us a restaurant for the evening. I came across the very fine central railway station, Porta Nuova.

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And a statue of Vittorio Emanuele II. There are loads of statues of this bloke in Italy

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There was a huge boom of thunder and heavens opened. It lashed it down for a good hour and you’re thinking I got a soaking but I was saved by the cities endless covered arcades. Other than crossing the road I walked home about 15 minutes without getting wet. I liked Turin.

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When we stepped back outside to eat the evening was glorious once more, with views to distant mountains

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The late evening sunlight in the arcades was also rather fetching

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Our whistle-stop day ended with an exceptional meal and as it turned out the best meal for the whole trip in my opinion. That was up against some stiff competition as the food in Italy was without exception superb and despite my reservations pretty reasonable in cost (once we worked out Italian menus anyway!). This place was called La Capannina and if you are ever in Turin I suggest you go find it. The food was sensational and the staff friendly and welcoming and appreciative of our efforts to speak some very basic Italian

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A walk back through the moonlit streets to finish off our brief visit before we were off again. I’d certainly recommend Turin for a weekend break. It has a decent collection of old buildings and squares, great restaurants and was quiet. It’s also a bit more “real” if that’s the right word than the living museums (and crowded) Rome and Venice

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21 responses to “Turin – A Day (and a bit) in the Life Of

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  1. Thanks for a wonderful tour of Turin. Glad you only had the one day of rain. Sad it was in the Alps, but perhaps you are returning home the same way. My favourite pic is the storm drenched street. Turin doesn’t seem to have masses of tourists or did you wait patiently for your shots.

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    • We weren’t that disappointed not to see the Alps in better weather as we often travel that way in the car. We were on holiday for 25 days so 1 day of rain on the only full day of travel was worth that. Turin really was that quiet, hardly any tourists, didn’t really prepare us for Venice and Rome! It was one hell of a storm but it was outdone by an ever bigger one in Venice. Turin was a unique place, totally different to the other cities we visited

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  2. Enjoyed your tour of Turin. A city I’ve not heard much about but sounds like a great place to visit.

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    • Its a very satisfying and quiet city. Doesn’t have quite the range of sights of other cities but its well deserving of a 2 to 3 day visit. I liked it a lot and glad we stopped over

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  3. From your pictures, Turin does look pretty quiet. There seem to be very few people and cars about. My kind of city!

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  4. Splendid stuff, spectacular photos too.

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    Brenda-Dawn Linney
    • It was a great day in a superb city. I’d read several reviews that said Turin is Italy’s most under-rated city that’s get little attention. It doesn’t have any “big-ticket” sites as it were, but its charming and quiet (with great food and ice cream as well)

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  5. “Hang on, lads; I’ve got a great idea.”
    Wow, I’m very taken with that. Really atmospheric photos, I think the changing weather did you proud. The boys and I recently watched The Italian Job, the original of course; I’m educating their tastes. I think you ought to watch it soon – many of these views look familiar to me. Turin looks well worthy of a slightly longer visit; it seems you’re educating my tastes!

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  6. Great post, I love Italy and it doesn’t surprise me that your best meal was there. I struggled to find a bad eatery in the country. Never been to Turin but it looks ace, perfect for a one day stopover.

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  7. Been to Turin a couple of times. I really like northern Italy and the people are generally very friendly and helpful. Very true about the rivers though- never seen one yet I fancied paddling or swimming in once you hit the urban lowlands.

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    Blue Sky Scotland
    • The people were friendly in Turin especially the restaurants we ate in, although despite expecting some “distance” in Rome and Venice, pretty much everyone we met there was friendly as well. The Po and the Tiber look nice from a distance but close up they are bit green and scabby

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  8. We have plans for visiting Italy and some of the ‘hotter’ places one winter, in the motorhome. Not sure when, though! So, we’ve not yet been to Turin or Venice etc. Again, It looks wonderful. I’m certainly not averse to the odd city break!
    So far in the motorhome, we’ve visited quite a few cities further north eg Paris, Bergen, Hamburg, Luxembourg City, Saltzburg etc and strangely they’ve all been really easy to both drive into and park in, even in the van. Not to mention very dog friendly to wander around!
    There is essentially something very relaxing about train travel though on the whole. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed the train journeys in Sweden that we’ve had in recent years.
    Looking forward to your next posts 🙂

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    • I can certainly recommend city wandering. You don’t have to visit the famous sites to enjoy the feel of the cities. Just wandering the streets was the real pleasure. I recommend all the cities we went to. Probably wouldn’t go back to Berlin, glad I went and I enjoyed it but its more a contemporary history lesson. You’ll have to wait a couple of weeks for those posts though! Even as a man welded to his car I have to say I loved train travel (especially when there is no pressure on to arrive for meetings etc)

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  9. Did you see any minis rushing around and driving through the colonades?

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